Off the charts: Dylan, Alvin brothers, Davina

2014-07-18T00:15:00Z Off the charts: Dylan, Alvin brothers, Davina The Billings Gazette
July 18, 2014 12:15 am

Various artists

“From Another World: A Tribute to Bob Dylan”

Buda Musique

Compiling a Bob Dylan tribute album from foreign covers has been done before, the best of them the “Masked and Anonymous” soundtrack. You haven’t heard Dylan until you’ve heard Turkish soprano Sertab Erener belt “One More Cup of Coffee.”

But those were fairly straight-up covers that you could sing along with, even if a few were in Italian.

On this new collection, the Indian singer Davana not only sings “Jokerman” in Hindi, the songs is so reworked it’s three minutes in before the familiar melody emerges over the ring of tablas and sitars.

The nearly seven-minute “Tangled Up in Blue” from The Musicians of the Nile also takes its sweet time revealing itself, and the wait is wonderful.

The artists range from a Latin style “All Along the Watchtower” from Cuba’s Eliades Ochoa, to “Corrina Corrina” from Rumania and two versions of “I Want You” from Myanmar and Taiwan. There’s also a “Rainy Day Woman #12&35” from Macedonia, “Every Grain of Sand” from Iran, and Australian Aborigines chanting “Father of Night” over a buzzing didgeridoo.

These are some of the finest musicians and singers in the world, and together they prove how universally pleasing and poetic Dylan’s songs are, even in non-Western music.

Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin

“Common Ground:

Dave Alvin + Phil Alvin

Play and Sing the Songs

of Big Bill Broonzy”

Yep Roc Records

Maybe it’s not such a mystery why the Alvin brothers haven’t recorded more often together.

“Brothers fight sometimes. They argue, tease, bully and disagree,” Dave says in the liner notes to their new tribute album.

This is the first album the brothers have recorded together since Dave split nearly 30 years ago from the band they formed together, The Blasters. Phil is a better guitar player than his brother, and Dave is a better singer. They need each other.

Even in their early teens, the Alvins were already listening to Lightning Hopkins and Sonny Boy Williams. But when they heard Big Bill Broonzy for the first time, it set the pattern for their musical lives.

The brothers dish exuberant versions of Broonzy chestnuts like “All By Myself,” “I Feel So Good” and the oft-covered “Key to the Highway.”

And, they have some great fun with Broonzy’s naughty songs, “How You Want it Done” and electrified, Chicago-style “Truckin’ Little Woman.”

Davina and the Vagabonds


Roustabout Records

Davina and the Vagabonds are familiar in Billings, appearing here three times in the past three years.

And it’s not just because their swinging set stole the Magic City Blues Festival in 2011. Davina Sowers is a rocking, piano-pounding shouter who seems to have soaked up every jazz and blues note from the past 75 years.

Along with her regular Vagabonds adding horns, drums and bass, guest artists add vibes and clarinet. Davina has been enlarging her sound for years, but never wider than she does on this collection of mostly originals.

The title cut has a ‘50s girl-group vibe, while “Red Shoes” has a New Orleans second line march going on. “Away From Me” is a slow blues ballad dripping with soul.

And Fats Waller, whose spirit hovers over everything here, gets his “You Must Be Losing Your Mind” revived, along with a jumping version of Eddie Miller’s “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water” that would make Cab Calloway lose his mind.

If you’re still mourning Amy Winehouse, Davina Sowers will help you heal.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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